Tag Archives: bike reviews

Winter Training on my Surly Long Haul Trucker

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Derek and I headed down to the river today after a snowstorm to test out our Surly Long Haul Truckers in wintry weather.  With a nice mixture of snow, ice, and a thick layer of mush, the ride turned out to be just what we were looking for.  Some things we learned from the ride:

  1. SKS Fenders, or fenders in general, really make for a cleaner ride.  Derek doesn’t have fenders and was covered with mud after about 2 minutes on the bike.  I was perfectly clean, although my front Ortlieb panniers were covered in mud.
  2. Adding some extra inflation to your tires increases speeds while under heavy load.  I was rolling pretty heavy on the ride and my speed was down about 2km per hour.  I stopped and pumped up my tires with my Topeak Road Morph up to near max capacity.  I was rolling with the wind and got an extra 4km per hour out of my bike.
  3. A simple 3-layer clothing system seems to keep us warm.  I’m wearing a pair of synthetic moisture-wicking long underwear (tops and bottoms), a think wool jacket on top, and a Gore Wind-stopper Jacket on top of that.  For my legs, I’ve got the long underwear, a regular pair of boxer shorts, and wind-protective pants.  Add some wool socks, a pair of cycling gloves, and waterproof shoe covers, and that’s it.  We were riding in light rain, 34 degree weather, and a 20mph wind.  No problems.  I really think the addition of the Wind-stopper jacket has solved my problems.
  4. The Surly Long Haul Truckers are holding up nicely.  I have over 900km on my bike while Derek is still breaking his in.   I have had no problems thus far with any part of the bike. So far, all of my racks, panniers, and water cages are holding up just fine.
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Bianchi Valle Review for 2009

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I was searching around for some new touring bike models, looking for upgraded 2009 bicycles, and generally anything else I could get my hands on, and I stumbled across the Bianchi Valle.  Bianchi also offers their ‘specialized’ touring bike the Volpe, a pretty nice touring bike with good features and a mid-range price tag.  But when I looked through the specs for the two bikes, I found the Valle to be a decent option for shorter-range tours.  It offers the same frame as the Volpe, CroMo steel frame and fork, and also has braze-ons to mount fenders and racks.  Actually, the Valle comes with front and rear fenders.  Another interesting difference between the two bikes is the Valle’s power-generating front dynamo hub.  Both bikes have 32 spoke rims which aren’t going to be too reliable with extremely heavy loads, which is why this bike is a decent possibility for shorter tours or commuters.

Bianchi Valle

I don’t like the flat handlebars on the Valle, the drop bars on the Volpe are much more my style.  I prefer the drop bars with the bar-end shifters.  The short chainstay length of 425mm might cause a bit of a problem when loading racks and panniers on the rear of the bike, if you’ve had any experience with doing that on this bike let us know.  I know the Surly Nice Rack offers enough clearance for this frame size with a properly adjusted rear Ortlieb pannier, I checked the pannier/rack combo on a lot of different bikes before I bought my racks.

I think this bike is worth checking out if you are in the market for a commuter or a short haul bike.  It’s another bike to add to your comparison list before making the big purchase.

Don’t forget to visit http://www.theultimatetrek.com to learn more about the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger Bicycling Trek.  Over 8,500 miles across 2 continents.  We’re recruiting riders and would love to have you join for all or part of the ride.